What does Donald Trump have to do with Earned Media?

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As recently as two-weeks ago, I bet if I’d asked how many people knew what the term ‘earned media’ Reportersmeant, few would have known. But thanks to Donald Trump, the word is spreading!  I heard it mentioned in two separate news stories this week alone.

There are three categories commonly used to describe the various types of media:

Paid Media, which refers to TV advertising, ads you encounter while surfing the web, direct mail, and the like.

Owned Media, which refers to your company’s own assets, such as your website, your Facebook page, blog etc.

and Earned Media, which is what Donald Trump is teaching us all about. Earned Media is news coverage, word-of-mouth, reviews. It’s called ‘earned’ because you don’t buy it (typically) or own it. Marketers love Earned Media because it’s free.

Politicians especially love Earned Media because they can gain tons of coverage without spending money they’ve raised. And Trump has lead the field by far, of any candidate ever, in free media coverage. In fact, he has hardly spent anything at all on paid media. And clearly, at least so far, he really hasn’t needed to. According to The New York Times, he has had almost $2 billion dollars’ worth of Earned Media! The downside of course is that Earned Media isn’t always positive, something Trump hasn’t seemed to care much about. In fact, it’s his shocking and ridiculous statements that bring him the most coverage…likely there’s a strategy there.

At the least, there’s a lesson here for marketers: if you make yourself newsworthy (in a positive way!), you’ll benefit. Perhaps a let-down of a payoff but think about it. If you can do something to pick up news coverage, the benefits can be immense. Give back to your community, forge an alliance with a non-for-profit that you care about, donate a part of your sales to a good cause. And make sure you find a way to get some media coverage as a result. Don’t be shy!

Sometimes it’s good to toot your own horn…and hope that others join in.

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